Footballer Andre Gray says he is ‘now a role model’ for reforming after ‘burn gays’ tweets
Premier League footballer Andre Gray has said he hopes he can be held up as a figure of change after tweeting that gays should “burn”.
The 25-year-old sent a flurry of homophobic tweets which resurfaced after scoring his first ever Premier League goal.
He has since attempted to reform and apologised for the tweets, now deleted.
“I’m sure people who have met me in the last two or three years will know who I really am; a lot of people have defended me because they know I am not that kind of person,” Gray now says.
“[But] It’s going to be out there for the rest of my life now and I’ve got to live with that.”
“I am a role model now to young people, they see what I am now,” he said.
“People look up to me now I’m playing for Burnley, and to see [the tweets] and the way it was portrayed was obviously difficult, especially when you want to explain that it was a long time ago.
“Where I am from certain things were not exposed to me. Thankfully football set me free from those kind of things. You meet people and you see other sides of life, the way people live differently. It opens your eyes in terms of sexuality and religion and everything. You realise that everyone is the same at the end of the day.”
The striker for Burnley, had faced criticism after shocking homophobic tweets from 2012 resurfaced online.
He wrote: “Is it me or are there gays everywhere? #Burn #Die #MakesMeSick”
The footballer has since deleted the tweets and asked “for forgiveness” over the posts, saying he was “a completely different person to the man I am now”.
Mr Gray was set to respond to the charges and requested a personal hearing on the issue.
An FA statement said: “Burnley’s Andre Gray has been charged with misconduct in respect of social media comments made between 9 January 2012 and 11 March 2012.”
“It is alleged the comments were abusive and/or insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute contrary to FA Rule E3(1).
“It is further alleged that these breaches include reference to an “aggravating factor”, namely, sexual orientation and/or gender and/or colour and/or race contrary to FA Rule E3(2).”
A statement from Burnley last year said: “Burnley striker Andre Gray has requested a personal hearing to answer Football Association charges relating to historical posts made on social media.
“The player had until 6pm today (Monday, September 5) to answer charges of comments deemed to be “abusive and/or insulting and/or improper and/or bringing the game into disrepute” contrary to FA Rule E3(1).
“It is further alleged that these breaches, which relate to posts made between 9 January, 2012 and 11 March, 2012, included reference to an “aggravating factor”, namely, sexual orientation and/or gender and/or colour and/or race contrary to FA Rule E3(2).
“A date for the hearing has not yet been determined.”
Gray said previously: “I would like to respond to media reports with regards to previous tweets posted from my Twitter account.
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“Firstly, I want to offer a sincere and unreserved apology to anybody I may have offended in relation to these tweets. The tweets were posted four years ago when I was a completely different person to the man I am now. I was at a very different point in my life back then – one that I’ve worked hard to move on from.
“Thankfully a lot has changed in my life since then. I have experienced a lot over the past four years and have had to take responsibility for a number of things in my life which has enabled me to mature and grow as a person since that time.
“I have a lot of regrets regarding a number of things I’ve done in the past and realise I have made some big mistakes, none more so than these tweets, but I would like to stress that I’ve worked incredibly hard to completely transform my life since that time.”
“To clarify, I do not hold the beliefs written in those tweets whatsoever. I can assure everybody that I am absolutely not homophobic and as said previously I can only apologise and ask for forgiveness to anyone I offended.
“Thankfully I am not the guy I was back then and will continue to work hard both on and off the pitch to become a better person.”
Last week Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock announced that she was dating Gray.